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Old 10-23-2007, 09:12 PM   #16
bananaman OP
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Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
Oddometer: 6,463
Fairbanks and getting back towards getting home

After the flat-tire-guys I got something to eat at the same truckstop where I'd slept just two nights before, then to Fairbanks for a hotel and a big bowl of mulligan stew. And some halibut that wasn't cooked the way I'd hoped.

"5:56 PM Brad broke his wheel 62,422/5127 about 95 miles north of Fairbaks on the Haul Road."
"8:08 still not fixed but I'm leaving."
8:29 PM Fairbanks AK 62506/5211 Fairbanks, AK been here about 30 minutes? OUT OF THE SHIT." and from the guys: "I, Tim Thompson, saw Max at Yukon River then he helped Brad fix a flat, then we met up with Max again just North of Fairbanks. That's my story and I'm sticking to it."

Next up: new tires for me. Those sticky ones were great but they got chewed up on the Haul Road, and before that, on the Cassier. The sharp rocks really got to them. But it was a Monday and there was a power outage or something.

I was really proud of myself- that I'd used up a set of tires in one week! I thought to myself, "It's Monday, so I must need new tires." But I couldn't find anyone who would sell me new ones at a price I was willing to pay (this would come back to bite me later). I got two cans of fix-a-flat (I'd used the last ones on Brad's bike but they hadn't worked at all).

"7/8/07 Fairbanks 1:15 PM Don't need no tire. Got 2 cans of Fix a flat. Off to HOME! 62,538/5242."
"6:16 Tok, AK 62,759/5463. 3x trucks- a unimog, mans, mercedes. had a good lunch. Off to Whitehorse. 4.26 gal @ $14.08 204 mi/4.26 gal: good."
"8:15 PM near US/Canada border. 62850/5554 2 gal @ $6.30."

"Tues 7/10/07 (I think it was actually 7/9/07) last night was hard. Set up camp @ white river, but couldn't sleep. Rode about 100 miles to Burwash. It got cold and WINDY. Set up camp and slept until alarm went off, 5:00 AM. Kept sleeping until 5:40 AM. So- I left White river at 1:00 AM central time, left Burwash at 8:25 central, now I'm in Haines Junction, 10:25 AM.

That night the riding was hard. I didn't ride in the dark- it never really got dark. I had a terrible headwind. And it was cold- in the low 30s. It rained a little and it looked like it was raining in the mountains. There was nasty construction- around the lake especially. I slept once, in a rest area on a bench. It was a very good nap. I was not making very good time though.





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Old 10-24-2007, 05:44 AM   #17
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The Gophers

Tanking a quick break from the ride report, wondering- what ever happened to the gophers? Three guys from Minnesota on KLRs wearing aerostich, one guy with bunny ears? They must have made it, and easy, because they were totally tricked out, complete with new nobbies in Fairbanks. We had played leapfrog along the Al-Can and I met them again in Yukon River as I was headed home and they were headed to Deadhorse. It was really frustrating when they would catch up, because everyone knows that sport bikes go way faster than KLRs- but over those distances it was like tortoise-and-hare.
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Old 10-24-2007, 05:58 AM   #18
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Buddy I'm loving this report!! Keep it coming!!
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Old 10-24-2007, 07:14 AM   #19
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The AlCan is LONG

1) Riding with buddies is easier.
2) Riding to Alaska is hard.
3) Riding home alone is harder.

In Haines Junction I looked at my map and it didn't make any sense because Whitehorse was still really far, and from there to Dawson Creek was even farther, and from Dawson Creek to Wisconsin? The maps lied. The perspective was wrong. On the map, the Yukon Territories, BC, and the other provinces were about the same size as North Dakota. But actually you can fit Wisconsin, the UP, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illionois in the BC. Easy. And there's gas.

From Fairbanks on, my life was gas and tires, gas and tires. I was very worried about my tires. Then I'd go into denial and figure that they'd make it home. Then I'd pass a ghost town with an empty gas station, with pumps covered in plastic and if I looked at them they were the old-style pumps and the prices were pennies/liter. Gas. I had 5 good gallons in the tank and another 2.5 on top, so at 40mpg into the wind I should be able to go 300 miles, but from Haines Junction to Whitehorse was still something like 300 miles. And what about beyond? Gas and tires.

The bike was running perfectly.

"Tues 7/10/08 2:08 PM 63176 changed the oil with Harley Davidson 20W50."
"2:26 PM 63182 9.6l @ $11.57"
"4:30 PM Yukon Motel 63299 10.2l @ $12.58"
"7:31 PM Hwy 37/Casier Hwy 63457 14.9l @ $19.34"
"10:26 PM 43 mi east of Watson Lake. 3.1L $3.76. 666 miles for the day. Not bad and not good. But it was cold all morning, and I changed the oil. Tomorow: RIDE."

Back in Watson Creek I'd tried to use a phone to call home. Eventually I got a drunk First Nation guy to let me use the phone in the grocery store. Problems at home- a sick horse, a worried kid, people who didn't realize that if I'm on a motorcycle in the Yukon, I can't just answer my cell phone, and I can't just pop home in a few minutes. Drama. All I could say was, "Listen. I'm in the Yukon Territories. That's in Canada, kind of like by Russia. I'm busy." But there were kazillions of messages and people expecting things from me. Ugh.

Ahead- rumors were there was little or no gas at night. I asked a cop and he said there was no gas. I tried to buy another gas can but I couldn't find a 2 gallon size. I wasted time looking around, and finally shoved off. I was feeling pretty good and the extra daylight had me energized. And it wasn't cold anymore. It was actually pretty nice out.

On my way East from Watson Lake I decided to get gas at every station. That's why I stopped just 43 miles later.

Then I decided to stop at the next place to camp because I started seeing buffalo on the road.





What are you supposed to do if there are buffalo on the road? Slow down, sure. But are they aggresive? Some of them were bulls. Would they act like bull holsteins? (Every once in a while, here in Wisconsin, a farmer is killed by one of his bulls! A highland-beef bull just killed a guy last summer, not far from my house!) Would they act like moose? Because I'd been warned not to mess with the moose. "If they put their ruff up, they're PISSED," Scott said. The Ancorage students told me a story of a man killed by a cow moose just a few weeks earlier. What would the buffalo do? I slowed down but I didn't linger to find out.





And then there were even more buffalo. Some were playful. But I didn't stick around very long. It was late and these types of road hazzards weren't the kinds I knew what to do about.

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Old 10-24-2007, 07:38 AM   #20
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Hot Springs, baby!

"8:45 AM. Stopped last night at midnight. 63,611 at a hot springs near Liard River."

The hot springs were nice. Smelled of sulfer but at least it was a bath. At midnight I found a camp ground and the store was still almost-open. And there was a nice-looking girl asking if anyone was going to the hot-springs one-last-time? I was up for it! After that morning and freezing cold I wanted to dip my toes in hot-hot-hot springs. Sorry, no photos.

For supper at midnight I was going to buy an eggsalad sandwhich but the ones in the camp store were expired and the guy told me to just take them. Living on the edge- even eating expired eggsalad! With the sulfor smell coming off the hotsprings I really didn't notice anything.

In Haines Junction the previous morning I'd seen two F650s from Ohio, and then I saw them again, and then again.



Just out of camp, just me on the road, I was riding along and bopping to whatever was on my ipod, and there was a bear on the side of the road. Cool, but I didn't slow down. A little while later, holy shit. There was a bear on the road and he was acting like I needed to pay a toll.

I stopped and got ready to turn the bike around. I unbuckled the bear-spray and kept it handy. I tried to take photos but I guess my hand was shaking a little- from trying to do too much. The photo doesn't do the bear justice. It was bigger than me on the bike. I mean it was big- at least 5 feet tall while standing on all four legs.

The night before, when I asked about bear, they said they had to shoot one a few weeks ago because it was getting aggressive. Too used to people and getting dangerous.



A little while later and I was laughing because it was like being in Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Except that I felt like I was Jim. First, "Let's see how Max handles the bear on the road." Then, "Let's see how Max avoids colliding with caribou." Then, "Let's see if Max can provoke a territorial response from the mountain sheep."














I liked the sheep. I've never seen them before. Back in Wisconsin I'd seen whitetail deer. In South Dakota I saw mule deer. In Wyoming I saw antelope. In Montana I saw elk (and one huge dead one in the median with a county truck backed up to it and three orange-clad workers looking at it and scratching their heads.) I saw eagles and hawks everywhere. On Orcas Island I saw seals and more deer. In the BC I saw elk and bear. In the Yukon and in Alaska I saw beer and moose. And then, back in the BC, Buffalo, Caribou, and SHEEP! MOUNTAIN SHEEP!
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Old 10-24-2007, 08:07 AM   #21
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Canada is really big.

"Liard River 9:22 AM Breakfased. Now waiting for construction... nothing...
...waiting..."
"10:11 AM 63649 9.29l @ $13.92 132/9.29l- pretty good!"
"1:33 pm SHEEP! CARIBOU! BEAR!"
"Fort Nelson. 63814. 14l @ $19.17 getting lunch... I am a Solo Adventure Rider." I liked to put little notes like that in my log just to motivate myself. But by this point- having returned to a type of civilisation- I felt like I'd accomplished a heck of a ride. I didn't realize before what a fucking noob/wannabe I was, before. I'm still a total wannabe but at least I rode the AlCan and I survived.

I had purchased a few bumper stickers- the classic ones, "I survived the Alaska Highway," but I was kind of scared at the same time. What if I bought them, and then didn't survive? The common theme at every gas station and every cafe was photos of wrecks. Real wrecks- semis totalled, cars barely recognizable, pick-ups torn in half... none of motorcycles I guess because there was never enough left of the bike to actually photograph.

"5:31 PM 63932 Buckinghorse, BC. 9.7l @ $13.48 one more bear."
"7:51 PM Forst Saint John, BC 64,076 13.6l @ $16.82"
"Dawson Creek 9:21 PM 64126 3.9l @ $4.54"
"Fatal Accident- 2 dead. Dusty detour."
How's that for a dry comment. 2 dead. Huh.
As I was leaving Dawson Creek I decided to turn back and get some gas. Because it was getting late and sometimes gas stations close. As I was filling up, an ambulance went by- lights on, siren on loud. I was tired and barely paid any attention. I saddled up and rode, and a few miles later, all the traffic was stopped. I rode the shoulder to the front of the line and got there just in time to see them load a stretcher in the ambulance but the ambulance didn't go anywhere. The first car was an RV. What happened? I asked. An RV crossed the center line and killed a car, they said. 2 dead, they said. We had to turn around and take a very, very dusty detour for a long ways, or else wait and wait and wait. From the front of the line I could see the MPs and the ambulance guys and they looked really shook-up.

All I could think was, Fucking RVs. Old people who can barely walk think they can drive the AlCan and they can barely fucking drive. Then they fall asleep or just kill someone while reaching for some more pot roast that they're cooking while they're driving.

Oh, the irony! (says I sarcastically). Bear and moose and what kills people? RVs in towns. (I still didn't know about Dave.)

"11:51 PM Grand Prairie, Alberta 64216 7.9l @ 9.79 mule deer buck on the side! fields of canolo, pastures, 1 buffaloe and elk. This town is flat and full of cruising hot cars and bikes."
"... much later... valley something. Bugs a plague. impossible to see. Windshield constantly full of lake-fly-types. ugh. Dangerous. Stopped at hotel. Slept 5 hours? 8:52 AM and getting ready to shove off. Leaving peanut butter and jelly.
plan: Edmonton noon
Saskatoon 3:00
Regina 5:00
Minot 10:00
Fargo 2 AM

It didn't quite work out this way.



The bugs were like this for two nights in a row. I don't remember when I took this photo but I do remember the plague. Riding along in a caravan with cars and trucks, every 20 miles everyone would stop, get out, wash their windshield, get back in, drive 20 miles, stop... If there was a car or truck oncoming I would be blinded from the haze on my windshield. This was dumb, dangerous, and I had to stop.

This is what a de-laminated front tire looks like. Crusing along at 90mph I started to feel a little vibration, then a little more, then flap-flap-flap. Fuck. But it still had air. I rode 20mph on the shoulder to the next town and then I wasted time finding a dealer with a tire. They were so nice (not!) to let me install it myself. And they gave me such a nice deal (NOT!) that I told them I'd make sure to tell all the ADVriders to do all their shopping there. So whatever you do, DON'T SHOP "rough & Tough Power Sports, lloydminster, Alberta. DO NOT ask for help from Blaire Brown or Jessee Mitchel. And do not call them at 780-872-7004. They charged me $300 for a front tire. Cash.

My adventure felt over, but it wasn't. I stopped keeping accurate notes. I stopped taking photos. I was tired and I wanted to be home already. But Canada just kept going and going and going. I swear it would have been quicker to have gone straight south from Dawson Creek, straight for the US border, and then across Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota. Cutting across Canada was not a short-cut. So if anyone ever says, "just take a shortcut across Canada," dont.

My notebook has random notes: "Thursday 10:25 AM 64,349 9.6l @ $10.66"
"1:14 PM Edmonton 64510 13.5l @ $15.77"
"3:36 PM Kilicoot, Alberta 64671 14.58l @ $16.17" Actually Kilcoot seemed like a really nice little town. The people were friendly and I got some awesome beef jerky at a little grocery store.
"10:10 PM Battleford, SK 64,791 9.77l @ $12.31 then a fucking train derrailment! Hydrogen peroxide cars spilled! Detour! And then... a fox!"

By the way, I forgot to include the lynx in the wildlife summary.

"9:14 AM 64,883 Saskatoon. Slept in a Sandman Hotel. Bound for Minot, ND."
"10:36 AM Davidson, SK 64958 15.23 l @ $18.11"
"1:33 PM 65108 Sunspot Cafe, Yellowgrass, SK GOOD RIDING TODAY. Back in Davidson I actually washed the bike. The oil-cooler was full-full-full of bugs. Even a huge dragonfly. Basically I just needed to clean the bugs off. Bug-juice=bad. Roads here are straight good flat fast and I'm running with the wind. Good night's sleep last night 1:30 AM-8:30AM. I feel pretty damn good but I'm about to eat some beef stew pie salad coffe milk water biscuit.
I ate a lot of it. Good."
"3:17 PM Estevan 65,180 15.28l @ $18.32 Avaon radial $200.00"

Frosty Forrest sold me a new rear tire just in time because the threads were starting to show. It wasn't going to make it home. He let me borrow his shop for the install and he even helped me a little. If you get a chance, check out the antique harleys in his shop. He's the real deal- and the opposite of the jerks who robbed me with a front tire.

"Minot ND. Uneventful border crossing. Some rain and scary lightning. Off w/gas to Devils Lake, ND."
"9:47 PM 65,305 3.56 gal @ $10.57 gas here is 1/2 of canada!!!"

At the border I started to notice nasty, nasty clouds. Then a thunderstorm and then cells all around me. I raced with the wind and tried to skirt them. At one little hamlet I crossed a rain-line. I was just behind one storm, just ahead of another. I started to hit 100mph and I didn't care if a cop saw me because the storms looked BAD. No shelter though. Out on the prairie again, storms again, maybe worse than on day 1 in Minnesota. Finally I got to Mino and took shelter at a Denny's. When I came out, half an hour later- the power pole was SNAPPED and a semi was tipped over. I don't want to think about what riding through that would have been like. I missed it by maybe 10 miles. At 100mph that's about 6 minutes. That was a little too close.

"10:40 AM 7/14/07 Grand Forks ND Checked into hotel at 3:45 AM. 65,530 cold and windy and drunk drivers." Running at night was dumb but I wanted to get home. West of Grand Forks I was harrassed by drunk drivers. They would come up to me, right behind me. I'd twist the throttle and zoom 100, then 110, in the dark. Then another car would pull the same stunt. I tried hiding in a wayside. Drunk drivers would come in, use the bathrooms, and leave. I felt like I had to run a gauntlet, like it was a game, and I was game. I was getting close to home and- and no damn drunks were going to stop me. The night was clear and visibility was perfect. The PIAAs lit the road plenty far ahead for running 100.

"3:48 PM St. Cloud MN 4.25 gal @ $13.98 65,795."
"6:26 PM Osseo, WI 65,977 4.15 gal @ $14.33" I didn't get no pie in Osseo. I just wanted to get home.
I started to see BMW riders everywhere. They were leaving the rally. I talked to one. He asked if I was going to it. I just looked at him. Rally's? Huh. Kind of lame, I thought. See- I was already getting the "I rode ALASKA" attitude. I was riding 90-110 mph on tires that I hadn't balanced. (Do NOT try that at home.)
I wanted to be home before dark.
"To Sarah's house @ 8:35 PM. then home 66,152."

Start: 57,295
Orcas: 59,414 (2,119)
Wiseman: 62,242 (2,828)
Home: 66,152 (3,910)
total: 8,857!!!







bananaman screwed with this post 10-24-2007 at 08:43 AM
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Old 10-24-2007, 09:16 AM   #22
bananaman OP
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4 months later

Every time I get back from a big trip I feel a little depressed for a while. Maybe a day, maybe a couple of weeks. When I got back from Alaska I slept 12 hours a night for at least a week. I haven't slept like that for years. I'm almost willing to do the ride again just so I can sleep.

I'd kind of like to evaluate the gear and stuff a little.

The BMW Rallye Pro suit was amazing. I didn't like having to take the pants off to put the goretex liner in, but once they were on, they were awesome. When it was raining and snowing on the Cassier, I was dry. I did add the marmot rain suit- underneath- when it was windy and cold. The marmot made a huge difference. Otherwise, even though the goretex liner kept me dry, it didn't feel like it was completly wind-proof. Zipping the pants to the jacket helped a lot.

I didn't have any "offs," so I didn't have to test the protection that way. But for normal stuff- like changing the oil- the knee pads were great. And I really like the leather lining inside the knees. The pants are really, really comfortable. But you can't wear them over jeans.

After finding out about Dave's accident I decided to get a neon Darien, but I just don't like it as much, and it doesn't keep me as dry. I'll probably over-analyze the differences between them for a few years before I decide which to wear. I also bought a pair of Darien AD1 Pants. They're nice for riding and they go on-and-off easy, but they're not as comfortable. They're totally waterproof though. Maybe I'll use them for skiing.

I wear an HJC helmet because it fits. I could spend 5 times more, but my HJC fits. So I wear it.

I don't like the clam-shell design of the side cases, but- now that I have fancy Zega's on my GS, I'm starting to apreciate the BMW cases more. It's easier to get inside them, that's for sure.

I wish the bike had a taller windscreen so that it would be quieter.

My boots were perfect. Smelly though.

Camping gear was good. After packing up in Wiseman I figured out a better way to pack the duffle. I lined it with the sleeping pad, put the sleeping bag inside the sleeping pad. The stove went on top of the sleeping bag. The tent poles and the stove fuel went between the sleeping bag and the sleeping pad. I took the tent out of the tent bag and packed it in reverse order at the top- first fly, then tent, then floor, so that taking it out of the bag, I'd have the floor, the tent, the poles, finally the fly. Also this way I didn't have to bungee the tent separate from the duffle.

I used a cable lock to secure the gas can to the bike. That way I didn't have to take the gas can into the hotel rooms with me.

I used a heavy cable to lock the bike at night at the hotels. I bungeed the cable to the handlebar so I wouldn't forget it.

My camera is still on Bosnia time and I can't figure out how to change it. I should have taken a bigger memory card because I filled it and then started to delete photos so I could take new ones. I bought a new camera after this trip- a Nikon D40. My photos are much better now.

I never had to complain about any of my gear.

I still have an internal debate- GS vs RS. I have to keep the GS and sell the RS. The RS is awesome, but it just can't do some of the things a GS can do. The GS can't keep up with the RS on pavement, but at least it can go. The RS should NOT try to keep up with the GS off-pavement, especially on slick rocks. The GS has extra suspension and an 11 gallon tank.

Next time I go to Alaska, I'm riding a harley or a goldwing, and I'm taking a girl. But next time I go to the Yukon, I'm taking the GS, and I'm going to Inuvik and Dawson. I might even check out that road to Telegraph that the First Nation guy said was tough. Yeah.
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Old 10-24-2007, 11:49 AM   #23
bananaman OP
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Location: Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
Oddometer: 6,463
GS vs. F650 or KLR

Maybe next time, instead of the GS, I will actually take a 650. They're so much lighter. It's going to suck getting TO the BC, but once there, the smaller bike will be awesome.

Dave and Siggy and Scott want to go to Whitehorse with a truck and trailer carrying dirt bikes. That would be a total, total blast.

BTW, Siggy is a GS instructor at the BMW school in Canada. Scott and Dave race motocross. Just so you don't think they're just sport-bike guys.

When I did this ride, I thought it was going to be practice for South America. I don't know for sure, but I think that Alaska and northern Canada might actually be a little harder. On account of the vast distances between gas and towns and stuff. But I don't know. Other people have probably already decided which is harder. My opinion probably doesn't even count.
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Old 10-24-2007, 12:55 PM   #24
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Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Wilmington, DE
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Great read. Thanks. I don't seem to tire of the AK/YT/NWT/BC reports. Everyone brings their own perspectives to riding and the journey and impart some of their personality and character in the telling.
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Old 10-24-2007, 08:39 PM   #25
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Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
Oddometer: 6,463
A little dose of reality

So I got called out on a couple of leeeetle details. I better set the record straight in order to stay straight.

1) this writing style I've been using here is totally affected. In real life- in real life I'm way, way more of a posseur.

3) (skipping 2 because it's embarassing) Up above the Arctic Circle, when I went skinny-dipping... it was co-ed but you had to look pretty close to tell the difference between most of the people's gender. And it wasn't the kind of thing you wanted to look close at. Beer helped. The geologist-people had beer and the more I drank, the less I worried about who had just been swimming in the water I was swimming in.

4) A long time ago I went to a hot spring in Wyoming or California and all the people there were over 100 years old. The hot spring by Liard wasn't much differnt. It was actually kind of gross. And the girl who wanted to know if anyone was going for-sure wasn't asking me. It wasn't a clothing-optional kind of place (thank god).

5) I'm a total, total noob to adventure riding. I'm not even sure that riding a BMW to Alaska counts. I'm in a club called OASIS and we have a panel/board/group of idiots who get to decide if an adventure is OASIS worthy. The consensus is that we're going to need a new category or motorcycle riding won't count. I've been arguing that it should be elevated to the highest level of adventure but most of the other idiots say motors shouldn't be allowed. So now I either have to quit OASIS or make everyone else get a motorcycle.

6) I was actually really scared a few times. The only way I kept going was with some stupid and non-logic that went like this: if I was sitting here in my livingroom and someone said I could die on a motorcycle above the artic circle, I'd say the odds are zero. I don't understand much about statistics but I seem to remember once reading an argument that basically says that even if I am on a motorcycle above the arctic circle, the odds are still the same. If I'm wrong, please- nobody tell me, because I need to use this one until I'm done with my various phobias.

7) I'm really not afraid of bears but when you see one on the road in front of you, you can't help but recognize that there's real danger, regardless of the alleged statistics.

8) I don't like to ride in groups. When I started out with Dave Scott and Siggy I felt totally overwhelmed and out of place. Plus they were on real sport bikes and I was on an 11 year old BMW. But I guess they felt I could ride, and they put up with me. And I guess I kept up ok but a few times I let them get a little ahead.

9) I don't know if anything is more fun than grabbing Dave or Scott's wheel on twisties west of Prince George or zooming over the wet deep mud on the Casier, even if I had no fucking idea what I was doing.

10) I don't know if anything is scarier than getting the wobbles in gravel over the rim next to a cliff on the Cassier. "Shift UP and add power," Siggy said. Siggy knows.

11) Alaska ain't nuthin'. The Casier in the rain and snow- the Casier is fucking epic.

12) Coming out of Montana into Idaho over the mountains through the curves leaning farther than you should going 100 is not legal but it sure is fun.

13) (for luck) I hope nobody thinks I'm a pretentious asshole because I don't feel like one.
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Old 10-25-2007, 04:57 AM   #26
Exurban
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Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Wilmington, DE
Oddometer: 592
My thoughts. If you do it you aren't a noob anymore and certainly not a poseur or wannabe. You went coed skinny dipping and a girl wanted to climb in a tent with but didn't because it was light out? WTF. Do people turn into gay prudes up there? Shrinkage or not, that's a dream come true. There's nothing wrong with naked old people. After fifteen minutes you become oblivious as to your and their state of undress. In that regard you are a pretentious noob. Get over it. It's ok to be scared of things worthy of respect like bears, fatigue and mud. However, it's not ok to stop living because of fear. You and everyone here (well except me until next June- I'm still a wannabe poseur noob) know the difference.
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Old 10-25-2007, 06:21 AM   #27
bananaman OP
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Location: Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
Oddometer: 6,463
Bears

My biggest fear regarding bear was the chance of hitting one. It was kind of the same with deer, antelope, elk, and moose. Except that if I hit a bear, whould the bear hit back?

I saw my first bear, like, ever, just before we turned onto the Casier. Dave was in front leading going fast. Siggy was behind him standing on his pegs on his mad-max-Katana-thing. Siggy stood a lot because he's old (like 50) and his legs have poor circulation. Scott was a little behind Siggy- close enough that we could see him, and far enough to be safe. I was behind Scott, and then there was a bear on the side of the road looking like he was eating some road kill.

A little while later- closer to the Casier- (keep in mind that distances are relative. "just before" could be 100 miles) we both saw a BIG bear on the side of the road, just kind of watching us. I mean BIG. It was a black bear but I didn't care. I don't know how much they can weigh but he looked as big as a horse. I wanted to wind up my windows and make sure my seatbelt was buckled. But- oops, I was on the bike. No windows or seatbelt.

The third bear was on the Casier close to the South end. We were on a nice long straightish stretch and going about 80. Dave clearly wanted to go 90. But Siggy was in front. We were kind of strung out- again, for safety- maybe three seconds apart. And a bear ran right across the road right in front of Siggy. He didn't even have time to touch his brakes. And the bear kept going. Siggy slowed- just let go of the throttle- and we bunched up a little and kept looking around like WWI fighter pilots. With looks like HOLY SHIT on our faces. Siggy must have wanted to be shaking a little but he's one of those tough-tough-tough-seen-it-all-Germans. When we resumed riding we went a little slower. It turned out to be a really good wake-up because if we'd kept up the 80-90mph we'd never have made it to the next gas station. This was the stretch where all our gas lights came on and all we could do was ride.
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Old 10-25-2007, 07:36 AM   #28
D-Mac
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Enjoyed the report.Reading about trips up north (Alaska, Labrador, etc.) never gets old.

I also appreciate your honesty. It's great to read about REAL PEOPLE who do these things and can talk about what freaked them out as well as what they enjoyed. When I stop being afraid, I'll know I must be dead.

Someday I'll get there Great stuff.

Cheers, D-Mac
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Old 10-25-2007, 07:57 AM   #29
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girls

As for girls wanting to climb into my tent... I might have exagerated just a little. Several points to consider: 1) AWOL had already been through there, so all the pretty girls were used up. As far as I know none of them crawled into AWOL's tent either, but he's so much better looking than the rest of us that, compared to him, I was like a big lump of smelly motorcycle-guy.

Maybe they took me skinnydipping just so they wouldn't have to smell me?

Maybe they took me skinnydipping so that the bears wouldn't smell me? I wonder what rank-rider smells like to grizzly? "Lunch!"

Maybe they took me skinny dipping for a good laugh?

Another very true thing: don't go to Alaska to pick up girls on the Haul Road.

I already told about how I was falling asleep on my way into Yukon River. And how I just curled up next to the propane tank. Eventually I made it to Coldfoot and gas and lunch (or dinner?). Pulling out of Coldfoot, a little way north, I saw this thing in the shade next to the bridge over the river. From a distance I couldn't tell what it was. But it wasn't natural. I slowed and kept looking at it. It moved. I still didn't know what it was. Like a lump in the shade? Not a bear. (After a while everything is either BEAR or NOT BEAR.) It moved again and I got closer and I could see into the shade. It was a bum on a 5 gallon pail. Hitchhiking.

I didn't have room for a hitchhiker. But I pulled up, stopped, killed the motor. Sorry I don't have room, I said. The hitchhiker was older- maybe 60ish. Grizzled- so I wasn't far off when I wondered if he was a bear. He looked at me for a while. Like if he was thinking. And then he goes, "I seen you sleeping at Yukon."
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Old 10-25-2007, 08:25 AM   #30
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...And then he goes, "I seen you sleeping at Yukon."

Man, that is creepy. I'd rather be attacked by bears in my sleep next to a propane tank than hear that.
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